LANCASTER (CBSLA.com) — A Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant was killed Wednesday after being shot by burglary suspect at a Lancaster apartment complex. The suspect was arrested about 90 minutes later.
Sgt. Steve Owen, 53, was shot after responding to a report of a burglary in the 3200 block of West Avenue J-7 around noon, according to a press release by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
He was the first of two deputies arriving at the scene.
Owen was shot in the face when he confronted the suspect, who then tried to steal the sergeant’s patrol vehicle. At that point, a second deputy shot the suspect.
“The suspect entered the sergeant’s vehicle and attempted to commandeer it,” said Capt. Steven Katz. “The deputy fearing for himself, engaged the suspect in gunfire. The suspect placed that car into reverse and rammed the second radio car at the location.”
The suspect then took off on foot and broke into a nearby house with two teens, ages 17 and 19, inside.
When she learned that the suspect was holding her kids hostage, she became frantic.
“I texted them and told them. I said: ‘get the shotgun now.’ And he’s like: ‘Mom, they’re in the house,'” Sara Arrowsmith said.
The teens hid from the suspect and texted deputies for help.
SWAT deputies arrived and rescued the teens while the others chased the parolee into the backyard.
After failing to scale a fence, the suspect surrendered in the driveway and was taken to a local hospital to be treated for a gunshot wound to his torso. A weapon was recovered at the scene, investigators said.
The teens’ mother said her kids were shaken but OK; the suspect did not hurt them.
“He was good with them. He did threaten them. He told them they had to be locked in the bathroom or whatever. He was shot. My son actually helped him get his shirt off and bandaged him up and tried to really befriend him, so he knew that he could gain some trust and be able to get help,” Arrowsmith said.
Sgt. Owen was taken to a hospital where he later died.
“They brought him back three times. They worked on him for an hour but they were never able to stabilize him,” Parris said.
Colleagues Wednesday evening remembered Sgt. Owen as a hero who received received a Meritorious Conduct Medal in 2014, along with five colleagues, for their roles in a pursuit and standoff situation involving a series of armed gang members.
County Supervisor Mike Antonovich issued a statement saying: “Sgt. Owen was an outstanding law enforcement professional who I had the opportunity to know and work with. He was a husband and father who was respected by his colleagues and engaged in his community,” the statement said. “He was senselessly murdered while responding to a call for help. His lose leaves a significant void for all those who knew him. Christine and I send prayers and condolences to his family and fellow deputies.”
The 29-year department veteran left behind a wife and two grown children – a son and daughter. They and other family members made it to the hospital just in time to say goodbye to Owen before he passed away.
“We were fortunate in being able to find his wife, who is an Arson-Explosives (Detail) detective in our department and get her to the hospital before Steve succumbed,” sheriff’s Executive Officer Neal Tyler told reporters. “We also had his son and daughter, who are adult children with him at the time, as well as his mom.”